Ray Lewis III of Lake Mary Prep will sign with the University of Miami on Wednesday, National Signing Day. (STEPHEN M. DOWELL/ORLANDO SENTINEL)
Ray Lewis III, the son of Baltimore Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis II, took some time between the Super Bowl frenzy to sit down with Orlando Sentinel reporter Chris Hays on Wednesday in Orlando to talk about his dad’s fame and how he handles being the son on an NFL icon. He also talks about his own career, which turns toward college now. He will sign, like his father did, with the University of Miami on Wednesday during National Signing Day.
Lewis III had a stellar career at Lake Mary Prep, which is in Lake Mary, a city of about 14,000 people 20 miles northeast of Orlando. He he rolled up more than 10,000 all-purpose yards at LMP. He also set a Seminole County career record for touchdowns, scoring 90 TDs running, passing, receiving and on returns. This past season, as a senior, he helped lead the Griffins to an 11-0 record before running into South Daytona Warner Christian in the second round of the Florida Class 2A state playoffs. He was invited to play in the U.S. Marine Corps Semper Fidelis All-American Game in December. He also earned Class 2A All-State honors and made the Sentinel's All-Central Florida second team.
The 17-year-old Lewis III is at his second Super Bowl today. His first one was in 2000 when he was 5 years old. The Ravens beat the New York Giants 34-7 and dad was named the MVP.
Orlando Sentinel: So how do you deal with all of the expectations that go along with being the son of an NFL icon?
Ray Lewis III: “It can be difficult, if you let it. I’m a really strong-minded. The expectations, all of that stuff … I don’t let any of that get to me. When I’m in the game I really just focus on doing me …
“My dad really just always preached to me to just ignore all of that. I can’t be worried about trying to be better than my dad or trying to be what other people’s expectations are of me. I don’t have to please anybody else. At the end of the day, doing all I can is the only thing I have and regardless of if that’s better than him or not, I gave it all I had.”
Sentinel: How does it affect you when you hear all of the talk about how your dad is this or that from media people who don’t even know him?
Lewis: “They are going to have to do their job somehow. If they didn’t do it, then they wouldn’t be getting paid and they’d be trying to find a new job. So, I get it. It’s not like I’m going to get upset or take it the wrong way. I understand that it’s life.
“Some people are going to love him, some people aren’t going to like him. That’s the way it is. It happens to other players. It’s not like he’s treated unfairly. My dad handles every situation very well. My family handles it very well and we just go on about our business the same way we have for the last 17 years.”
Sentinel: Your dad is always in the media about everything he does. Do you get questioned about the same things, as well.? Does is get annoying?
Lewis: “I’m used to my dad being in the spotlight. I’m used to people asking questions about him. I’m used to handling the situation. It’s not that I would necessarily say it gets annoying, because I understand that people are curious. If my icon from some other sport or something … if I knew his son, I’d be curious about his life and maybe asking him questions, too. I understand where people are coming from.”
Sentinel: Do you have an NFL hero other than your father?
Lewis: “I’ve always loved Devin Hester since he was in college at Miami returning kicks and punts. At Miami he was ridiculous, returning punts left and right … even in the NFL. They won’t even kick him the ball anymore. He’s broken all the records.”
Sentinel: Fans and teammates alike talk about how they get goose bumps as they watch your father do his dance when he comes on the field every Sunday. Do you feel that sort of emotion?
Lewis: “I feel the intensity that he’s bringing. I come from him. I am the exact same way on the field. I know exactly what he’s feeling and what he’s trying to get them to feel. I know exactly what is going on in his head while he’s doing that … I definitely feel that intensity, like I want to go play a football game right then at that moment.”